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Your turntable or phono needle (better known as a stylus) is the first point in the audio signal chain. It's the instrument responsible for directly tracking your record and starting the process of converting an otherwise useless groove into sweet, sweet music. As the record plays, the stylus picks up all the dust and dirt on your LP, and for it to perform at its best, you need to keep it clean.
What's the Stylus?
The stylus is the needle that rests on the record. Ideally, the stylus is a tapered component made of diamond, the hardest natural material on earth. In addition to diamond, sapphire is also commonly used in record needles. The needle is attached to the arm by a flexible metal strip.
What are the Consequences of not Cleaning the Stylus?
The frictional process of playing records is enough to slowly wear down the tips of phonograph needle. But more importantly, dust, finger oils and any other accumulated dirt can greatly accelerate this process. As the stylus tracks the groove, the friction generates heat, causing dust and oil to harden and adhere to the surface of the stylus.This not only degrades audio performance in the short term, but also causes the stylus to wear more quickly and unevenly. Incorrectly shaped or badly worn styli can also lead to more severe record wear.
How To Clean Stylus?
- Use the stylus cleaning brush or soft brush to move it in one direction from front to back in the same way as you recorded it. Do this gently, without hurting or bending the tip. Simply run the brush over the tip 2-3 times to clean it.
- Gently press a piece of melamine eraser into the tip of the needle and pull the debris out. Your needle only needs a small eraser, so cut off a section about 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) long and 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) thick, hold the arm in one hand to keep it in place, then gently push the eraser into the tip of the stylus and pull it away. If your needle is particularly delicate, place the eraser under the needle at the top of the turntable. Slowly place the needle on the eraser and lift it up again.Repeat the process as needed until it is clean.
- Dip the needle into the stylus cleaning gel for a quick deep clean. These cleaners are made of a plasticized gel that wicks dust away from the needle. Place the gel holder under the tip of the needle. Gently push the tip of the stylus into the gel. Repeat this action several times until the tip of the needle is clean.
- Use liquid stylus cleaner to clean extra dirty needles. Some stylus cleaners come in a container that looks like a nail polish bottle. To use these, pull the applicator out of the bottle and wipe away any excess cleaner from the inside of the bottle. Move the applicator through the tip of the needle, front to back and back to front. Repeat this step until you see that the tip is clean.
How Often Should I Clean It?
We recommend cleaning every 2-3 records. You can increase or decrease the amount of liquid used depending on how dirty the stylus is, but if the stylus gets too much dirt on it, it is an indication that you need to clean the record.
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